Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Easter celebrates a wonderful unexpected surprise. They had watched Jesus being crucified on the Friday. Late that afternoon they had watched Jesus’s body laid in the tomb. All Saturday they had observed the Sabbath and waited. Early on the Sunday morning they had gone to the grave expecting to anoint a dead body. Instead the women found the stone rolled away – not to let Jesus out but to let the disciples in. They had found the empty tomb and abandoned grave clothes. And the angel brings this amazing message:
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” (the angel) said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
Christ is risen. His sacrifice was acceptable to God! Our sins can be forgiven. Death is defeated – we need never fear the grave again. Jesus is alive and men and women can share His glorious resurrection life. Because he lives, we will live also!
Christ is risen! But the good news is followed by a command to the women.
GO AND TELL HIS DISCIPLES
We can imagine how the disciples felt all through Holy Saturday. Discouraged. Disappointed. Lost. Like sheep without a shepherd. Their leader and teacher and friend had been crucified and his body sealed in a grave. All their expectations and hopes for the future were lying with Jesus in the tomb, dead and buried.
But the angel sent a message to the disciples. What a transformation that Good News would be. The stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty. He is not dead. He is risen!
Here was Good News the disciples needed to hear. Go and tell his disciples – Jesus is alive! Here is Good News everybody needs to hear! Our neighbours and friends. People in all kinds of need and people who don’t realise they have needs. Jesus is alive! Go and tell his disciples. But the sentence did not end there.
Go, tell his disciples, AND PETER
Two precious words. “And Peter.” Including Peter. Even Peter. Since he was the only one mentioned by name we might even say, “Especially Peter.”
I agree with early Christian tradition that Mark’s Gospel was based on the sermons of the Apostle Peter. So it is no surprise that Mark’s is the Gospel which includes those two words, “And Peter.” Words which Peter the leader of the apostles really needed to hear.
Remember how just three nights before in the Upper Room Peter more than any of the other apostles had pledged his loyalty to Jesus.
Mark 14 29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” Jesus warned Peter that he would disown him…31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”
Remember how then it was Peter who had denied Jesus three times. 71 (Peter) began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
Remember how, when the cock crowed, Peter broke down and wept.
Peter had failed Jesus. What could he possibly do to make up for his failures? Now there were these amazing stories that Jesus was not dead but was alive again! But if that were true, what would Jesus say to him, to Peter, who had denied knowing him three times? How could Peter possibly face Jesus again?
Hear as Peter would have heard them, those two wonderful words in the message from the angel. “Tell his disciples, AND PETER.” Two very personal words. Showing God’s care for every individual, even for Peter. A very special message of forgiveness. “And Peter.” The Good News that Jesus is alive even applied to Peter.
It is easy to believe that God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not die but have eternal life. It may be easy to believe that Jesus died for other people, but harder to trust that he died for me. It can be really hard to realise and accept and know deep down inside that God loves me. God loved ME so much that He gave His only Son. That Jesus died for MY sins. That Jesus has conquered death so that I, even I, need not fear death. Jesus is alive and I, even I, can share His resurrection life. Peter really needed to hear those wonderful words, “Tell His disciples, AND PETER.” And each of us need to hear that message for ourselves. That Jesus has died and that Jesus is alive FOR US! FOR ME!
John’s Gospel tells us that Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus alive. But in the list of resurrection appearances Paul gives in 1 Corinthians we read this.
15 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.
Some time during that first Easter Day, Jesus appeared especially to Peter. That meeting between Jesus and Peter must have been intensely private – so even Mark does not record the details. But Peter treasured in His heart those first words he heard which told him that Jesus still loved him and that Jesus forgave him. “Tell his disciples, AND PETER.”
Each of us needs to hear that message for ourselves. Jesus is alive FOR US. And this is also the Good News which the whole world needs to hear. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in human history. Jesus IS ALIVE!
Go and tell his disciples – AND PETER. The women told the disciples. The disciples told the world. And now it is our turn to go and tell. Preach the good news to the whole of creation! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!